By JJ Walsh
Visit one of Hiroshima area's most treasured spots, Kintai Bridge, an architectural masterpiece that is at once simple and breathtaking. Built in 1673, it is one of the easiest day trip destinations to visit while you are in Hiroshima. Travel by train to Iwakuni, take a quick bus trip from the train station that puts you right next to the bridge itself, then spend the day relaxing, strolling, and enjoying the traditional Japanese scenery.
This bridge is close to Iwakuni, the American military base. It is nestled in a very industrial area, and is a breath of fresh air. Around the bridge is a rocky shore, perfect for sitting and looking at the bridge or taking pictures. If you'd like to go on the bridge itself, you should be prepared to pay 300 yen for adults and 150 yen for children. If you prefer to avoid the fee, another bridge close by has a sidewalk that you can easily cross over while getting a breathtaking view. On the other side, continue to explore the riverbank or look at the fishing boats that are used in the summer for cormorant fishing, a unique activity that is done in the area.
Once you've crossed over the bridge, you will find yourself in a lovely little cluster of shops around a square, with a few restaurants and ice cream stands. There is a variety of traditional Japanese food available, including takoyaki, mochi, chicken on a stick, ramen, and more. One of the restaurants, むさし(Musashi), served Yamaguchi ramen. This ramen was rich, dark, and delicious, and the price was quite reasonable. The restaurant also has English menus available.
After enjoying your delicious ramen, take a few minutes to explore the many ice cream stands in the square. One of them boasts 100 flavors. If you like normal, they have all the traditional tastes like vanilla and chocolate. For the more adventurous, try something a little different, like Iwakuni lotus or wasabi.
Built around this area is a cluster of small shrines and a temple. In particular, many honor シロヘビ shiro hebi, the white snake. This snake is native to the area. If you like snakes, there is a small house that has a few live white snakes that you can view, as well as an assortment of snake inspired souvenirs. The temples are stately, and there are plenty of fountains as well as trees that bloom in the spring and look beautiful for a large part of the year. For an especially breathtaking visit, go during cherry blossom or maple leaf season. If you like history, you can visit Iwakuni Castle, Iwakuni City Museum, and White Snake shrine (which is accessed by a cable car going up the mountain).
Going to Kintai Bridge and the surround area is a calming experience, and it is easy to spend 2 hours or a whole day, depending on what your schedule allows. There is a hotel close to the bus stop if you decide to stay longer.
This is not a trip you want to forgo, make sure it's on your checklist!
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I am the poster child for Third Culture Kids (TCKs for short). I was born in Namibia, grew up in South Carolina, and now live in Hiroshima, Japan. This has created a chronic wanderlust, the insatiable desire to travel. I also love to create, and my goal is to make a living creating any and everything through music, design, videography, and writing.